Top, middle, or bottom: which floor is best?

Wednesday October 30 2019

Apartments on Lugogo Bypass, Kampala. Photo by

Apartments on Lugogo Bypass, Kampala. Photo by Ismail Kezaala 

By Carolyne B. Atangaza

There we were in the best apartment we had seen the whole day. The broker opened the balcony door to show us the gorgeous view of the city.

As the adults were taking in the view, my friend’s ten-year-old son with whom we had been house hunting joined us on the balcony with one shoe missing. On questioning, he confessed he had dropped it on the ground because he wanted to time how fast it moved.

I felt chills all over my body thinking what more this budding physicist could be tempted to hurl from the fifth floor in the name of learning. Nevertheless, that incident eliminated that beautiful apartment from my consideration. As the population increases, it has become necessary to expand vertically resulting in a number of luxurious and convenient apartments to choose from.

Once you get an apartment that suits your tastes and pocket, the next important decision to make is which floor you would like to love on. There are so many logistics to consider when choosing a floor on which to live. Every floor has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

The top floors are favoured for their breathtaking views, privacy and security. The top floor is less likely to be broken into or vandalised because of criminals ordinarily go after easy targets, and climbing up the side of a building is too cumbersome especially if you have to carry the household back down. Living on the top floor means fewer visits from unwanted pests and bugs.
Pests typically live in or on the ground outside, so they are more likely to infest apartments that are closer to where they live in nature.

Ronald Atwiine, a structural engineer, notes that the higher the floor, the more natural sunlight pours into the rooms. However, this rich sun soaking your apartment does come with some negative effects such too much heat especially during the hot season. “Hot air rises which can be great news for top floor dwellers during the rainy season but it becomes hostile during the dry season.


You might be forced to resort to other means of cooling the apartment down using fans or an air-conditioning system which will in the long run increase your electricity bill,” he explains.

Another major advantage of living in top floor apartments is silence and tranquility they offer. Depending on the number of top floor occupants, there is less noise from foot traffic both inside and outside of the building. You will get much less noise from neighbors, considering there will be no one above you. More so, as long as your building has more than just two floors, you will have less noise from the street below to deal with.

Arthur Kasirye, a real estate manager says he usually recommends the top floor apartments for single occupants who do not have children or pets or a lot of furniture.

“Moving heavy items into the apartment can be tiresome and often leads to some damage to the furniture. If you have something heavy, such as furniture, to bring in or out of your apartment, it could be a quite the hassle. Some even have to hire machinery to help move furniture in and out which would not be such a big deal for single people with less and lighter furniture,” Kasirye says.

One of the obvious but often ignored consideration while choosing a floor to live on is the exit strategy in case of emergencies such evacuating during a fire or natural disaster. Kasirye recommends that you ask your broker to show you the building’s evacuation route and plan.

“If you think you can handle running down several flights of darkened stairs filled with smoke then go ahead and take the top floor. If you cannot, you are better off in the middle or bottom floors,” he adds.

Middle floor
Middle floor occupants seem to have the best of both worlds. They are bound to have less street noise to deal with, as well as foot traffic in the halls, but still get some of the same benefits of living lower in the building. Depending on the number of floors the apartment has, the stairs are usually not that many nor are they none existent; this gives a nice balance with the welcome advantage of getting some exercise without straining yourself.

“One other nice thing about living on one of the middle floors is the naturally regulated temperature; it does not get too hot nor does it get too cold,” Atwiine states.

If you are a social person, the middle floor is the place for you as you will be completely surrounded by neighbors above, below, and likely beside you.

Noise: Security: Depending on the layout of the building and its built-in security measures, basement and ground floor apartments can pose a higher risk of criminal activity and break-ins than apartments on higher levels.

If your prospective apartment is in a high rise building with a door man, is within a gated community, has on-site security or requires a FOB or code for access, crime is less likely to occur. However, if you fear that criminals could easily access a ground-floor window without an alarm system or bars, you might consider “moving on up” to a higher floor.

Bottom floor
The first floor is a favourite for families with young children, elderly parents and pets. Since no one will be living below you, you will not have to worry about being as quiet when moving around. You can dance if you want to, and your children will be free to crawl across the floor without upsetting the neighbours.

Carrying anything into your apartment in will be a lot easier if you live on the bottom floor. It might be worth considering a lower level apartment for moving day alone if you have a lot of heavy furniture.

Opposite of living on the top floor, you will actually save money on your AC bill in the summer, since your apartment is likely to be a lot cooler on the bottom floor.

Living on the ground floor could mean access to a backyard or courtyard, which is great for tenants with pets, children or who love entertaining outdoors. This is not always the case, but it is something to keep in mind when deciding.

In case there is ever an emergency, you will have a much faster exit living on the bottom floor. This is also good for saving time when rushing to work in the mornings.

According to Kasirye, while buildings differ, most ground floors get limited light and ventilation. They are more prone to insect and mosquito intrusions.

Dampness from the ground and overall ambient humidity is high and latent heat is also higher. It is often believed that the security on ground levels is more compromised than on the upper floors. Living on the bottom floor of an apartment exposes you to pests, wild animals and bugs compared to living on a higher floor.

Ground floors are prone to comparatively higher crime risks. Breaking in into lower or sub-level floors in an apartment is easier than breaking in into floors in higher levels. But it also depends on the shape and structure of the building while also depending on the proficiency of the maintenance and security management.

How to secure your apartment
Just like moving into more traditional houses, safety and security are important consideration for residents of apartments, flats or condos. And with so many other tenants, residents and visitors crammed into such a small space, the security and safety risks that come with that cannot be ignored.

Investigate crime and safety of the area before you move in.
Make sure you check the conditions of the locks. Are they worn out? Or damaged? Locks are without a doubt one of the most important parts of your home’s security and its first line of defense. If building management permits, rekey your existing locks, change them completely or add more locks.
If your building management or landlord allows, why not install a security system? Having a visible alarm or camera system for your apartment can be a powerful deterrent to wannabe burglars. Secure balcony doors as these can be used an entry point by intruders.